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What is a cyclone

A cyclone is a violent storm characterised by high winds rotating about a calm center of low atmospheric pressure that can produce winds in excess of 200 km/h which can cause extensive damage and result in death or injury caused by flooding, buildings collapsing or flying debris.

Cyclone warnings

The Bureau of Meteorology issues a cyclone warning when a cyclone is expected to hit within 24 hours. Warnings identify communities likely to be hit, the name of the cyclone, its position, intensity, severity and movement. Communities under threat will be advised to take certain steps.

Preparing for Cyclones Brochure

Download a copy of "Is Your House Prepared for a Cyclone" developed by the Cyclone Testing Station.

Preparing for Cyclones (booklet contents)

Table of Contents

Cyclones are destructive and inevitable

CycloneEvery year between November and April, the coastal regions of Queensland are at risk of being hit by cyclones.

A cyclone is a violent storm characterised by high winds rotating around a calm centre that can produce winds in excess of 200 km/h. These strong winds can cause extensive damage to property and turn debris into dangerous missiles.

Cyclones can also bring flooding rains, which cause further damage to property, and increase the risk of drowning.

Many cyclones also bring about storm surge, which is a rapid rise in sea level that moves inland very quickly. Storm surge can damage buildings and cut off evacuation routes and be the cause of injuries and sometimes death.

While most deaths from cyclones occur as a result of drowning, many lives have been lost due to collapsing buildings or flying debris which can become lethal in high winds.

Being prepared is your responsibility

Preparing your family and your home for a cyclone is your responsibility.

Every person who lives in the cyclone-prone areas of Queensland must recognise this and make it a priority between the months of November and April.

While local, state and federal governments can spend millions of dollars every year on disaster mitigation, response and recovery, these efforts can be worthless if families do not take the proper precautions themselves.

This booklet explains in detail the preparations that you will need to make during cyclone season in order to minimise the damage to your home and maintain the safety of your family.

Photo of house with roof missing after a cyclone

Before the Cyclone Season

There are many important things that you can do now to prepare your family and your home.

How to prepare your family

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Special food and medication may be required for infant, elderly or disabled family members.Every family should have a fully stocked Emergency Kit stored safely in their home.

This should include a portable radio, a torch, spare batteries, first aid kit, non-perishable food, sturdy gloves, waterproof bags, candles, matches, essential medications and copies of important documents (eg insurance details, birth certificates, prescription refills) in sealable plastic bags.

Queensland Ambulance Service recommends that families include the following in their First Aid Kit:

Special food and medication may be required for infant, elderly or disabled family members.

Develop an evacuation plan

Contact your local council if your family requires special assistance to evacuate.It is essential that you spend a few minutes with your family now to talk about what you will do if an evacuation becomes necessary.  For residents located in evacuation zones, pre-arranging safer accommodation is the best option, and will enable your immediate action in the case of an evacuation order being issued for storm surge threat.

If you do live in an evacuation zone, establish an evacuation plan for yourself and your family to shelter with friends or family located in safer places. 

If you don't live in an evacuation zone, you can support your family or friends who do, by offering them the option to come and shelter with you in the event of an evacuation order.    

Remember that evacuations are only ordered if storm surge or flooding is likely.

How to prepare your home

An unprepared home  A well-prepared home

What to do when a Cyclone Watch or a Cyclone Warning is issued

A Cyclone Watch is issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) when gales or stronger winds associated with a cyclone are expected to hit within 48 hours but not within 24 hours.

A Cyclone Warning is issued by BoM when gales or stronger winds are expected to hit within 24 hours.

If you hear either a watch or a warning you should:

During a Cyclone

If a cyclone is approaching and an official evacuation order has not been issued, you may decide to shelter in your home until the cyclone has passed through.

If you decide to shelter at home:If you are driving when a cyclone hits, immediately park in 
an area that is clear of trees, powerlines and water courses and stay inside your car.

Ensure your pets are in a safe place (such as the garage or the laundry) if you cannot take them with you. Leave them with food and water but do not tie them up. If you must evacuate:

If an official evacuation order is issued then you and your family must leave your home immediately and seek shelter with friends or family who are further inland or on higher ground.

After a Cyclone

Your local SES can assist with debris removal and temporary repairs following a cyclone.The time immediately after a cyclone is often just as dangerous as the initial event itself.

Many injuries and deaths have occurred as a result of people failing to take proper precautions while exploring collapsed buildings and sightseeing through devastated streets.

Once you have been advised that the cyclone has passed you must adhere to the following:

For more information

Visit the following websites for more information.

CHECKLIST: Is your home prepared?

Complete this checklist in November at the beginning of the cyclone season.

Have you trimmed overhanging branches?
Have you cleared your gutters?
Have your removed all loose items from your property?
Is your roof and guttering secure?
Have you installed metal window shutters?
Have you prepared an Emergency Kit that includes the following:
    portable radio
    spare batteries
    first aid kit
    essential medications
    non-perishable food
    sturdy gloves
    waterproof plastic bags
    candles and matches
    important documents in sealed bags
Do you have a spare supply of fuel in the event of an evacuation?
Do you have an emergency supply of water?
Does your family have an Evacuation Plan?
Have you checked your insurance policy?

CHECKLIST: Are you ready to evacuate?

Complete this checklist in the event of an evacuation.

Has official advice been given to evacuate?
Do you know where you are evacuating to?
Is your evacuation point further inland, on higher ground and secure?
Do you know the preferred route for evacuation?
Is your vehicle full of fuel?
Have you packed an Evacuation Kit?
Do you have essential medications for your family?
Have you packed important documents and valuables?
Have you packed your Emergency Kit?
Are your pets safe and secure?
Have you packed emergency water supplies?
Have you checked on any neighbours who are elderly or disabled?
Have you turned off all the power, gas and water mains to your home?

Emergency Contact List

Record your emergency contact numbers in the list below, print this out and display it clearly in your home so that it is visible to all family members.


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Last updated 14 December 2012